Human–Animal Interaction and Older Adults: An Overview
Among patients with coronary artery disease, pet owners exhibit a greater 1-year survival rate than nonowners. Lifestyle-related diseases are well-known risk factors for coronary artery disease and induce imbalances in autonomic nervous activity. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether pet ownership modulates cardiac autonomic nervous activity imbalance in patients with lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. A total of 191 patients (mean age 69 ± 8 years) were interviewed about their pet ownership status and were classified into pet owner and nonowner groups. After recording a 24-hour Holter electrocardiogram for heart rate variability analysis, frequency-domain and nonlinear-domain analyses were performed to determine the high-frequency (HF) and low-frequency (LF) components, LF/HF ratio, and entropy. The heart rate variability parameters were assessed for 24 hours, during the day (8.00 A.M. to 5.00 P.M.), and during the night (0:00 A.M. to 6.00 A.M.), and compared between the 2 groups. To evaluate the potential predictive factors for cardiac autonomic imbalance, univariate and multivariate analyses of HF and LF/HF were conducted for potential confounding variables. The pet owner group exhibited significantly greater HF(24h), HF(day), HF(night), entropy(24h), entropy(day), and entropy(night) and significantly lower LF/HF(24h) and LF/HF(night) compared to the nonowner group. On multivariate analysis, pet ownership was independently and positively associated with HF(24h,) HF(day), and HF(night) and inversely associated with LF/HF(24h) and LF/HF(night). In conclusion, these results suggest that pet ownership is an independent modulator of cardiac autonomic imbalance in patients with lifestyle-related diseases.